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Buffalo Girls: A Novel Paperback – November 13, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743216296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743216296
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McMurtry's ( Anything for Billy ) meandering, gentle-humored threnody for the passing of the old Wild West, assembles an eclectic crew of aging friends, both fictional and historic. In the late 1800s, ex-beavermen Jim Ragg and Bartle Bone ramble over the prairie, sleep in ghost towns and lament the days when "beaver still splashed in the cool streams of the west." With them travels Indian scout No Ears, whose acute senses are keyed to the animal and spirit worlds. In Miles City, Mont., softhearted Dora runs her fancy bordello, bewailing her lost cowboy T. Blue, who married a half-Indian bride but who still yearns for and visits the lovelorn madam. Dora finally weds young giant Ogden, gets pregnant and buys Miner's Rest, a proper hotel, signaling that the "era of the buffalo girls" is also over. Interspersed throughout the narrative are sharpshooter Calamity Jane's brooding letters to her daughter, Janey, whose father was Wild Bill Hickok. A trip to England with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show fails to cheer the gang, and they return home to sink into melancholy and death. McMurtry's genius with language always enchants, but this tale's charm is muffled by sadness. Literary Guild featured alternate.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

McMurtry, a prolific mythologizer/demythologizer of the Old West, here takes on Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary, 1852?-1903)--who confesses in a series of letters to being a drunken hell-raiser but never an outlaw--and sundry larger-than-life cohorts. The author's talent for characterizations and storytelling shines as he depicts gritty events and relationships in the life of fur trappers and Indians who, along with Calamity Jane, must resort to performing in Bill Cody's Wild West show in order to survive. They exploit and are exploited by their frontier lifestyle before being defeated by it in the end. A spellbinding saga with a surprise ending. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/90.
- Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A hard book to put down once you start reading.
Michael Parke
Excellent Larry McMurty novel about Calamity Jane and her adventures in the last days of the Wild West.
MissElaineUsMusing's
A definite must read for the historical fiction lover.
Natalie Mellum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By RMurray847 VINE VOICE on February 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
McMurtry's "westerns" are usually big sprawling sages, brimming with great characters, over-flowing with plot developments, packed with humor and tragedy. They make you feel the openness of America's west. In such novels as Dead Man's Walk or The Berrybender Narratives, we get a sense of what the west was like just as white men began to explore it. We see it through the eyes of simple folk, usually, as well as through the Indians. We understand how each side views the other. We understand how cruel the land and circumstance can be.

Other books, such as Streets of Laredo, show the west as still wild but becoming ever more tame. The Indians are less and less of a threat, towns are growing, the "wild" people who inhabited the land are feeling cramped. The buffalo and beaver are gone.

BUFFALO GIRLS fits into the latter category. But the books I mentioned above are different in a couple of key ways. 1) they are longer and more ambitious in scope, 2) paradoxically, the feel more controlled and unified in vision. BUFFALO GIRLS has a smaller cast than most McMurtry sagas, and the time frame covered (except for a hasty final couple of chapters) is fairly short. Yet by the end we feel as though we've kinda slopped all over the place.

Don't get me wrong, there is much to admire. Good characters (Calamity Jane is the "hero" of the book, but she often takes a back seat in the narrative, almost completely disappearing for chapters at a time) are here. Especially good is No Ears, the elderly Indian who remembers the old times and now has no real place among his own kind, so he hangs on with Jane and her male friends...old trappers, scouts and early settlers. He's well thoughout out, sympathetic and funny.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
We are in the last part of the 19th Century in this novel, and the Wild West has breathed its last. The book is peopled with real legends (Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull) and fictional curiosities (Jim Ragg and Bartle Bone - two Mountain Men, and No Ears - an Indian with exceptional eyesight). McMurtry relates a sad, elegiac farewell to times past. The ever-interesting characters and their views of the world, which are wise and funny and fascinating, make the novel top-notch in the McMurtry canon.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Horan on May 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
Many historic characters are mentioned in the novel, however, the emphasis is on Calamity Jane and her letters to her daughter fathered by Wild Bill Hickok. We know the West is passing when the characters must join a Wild West show and tour Europe. There is poignancy and a feeling of loss. We care about these noble scalawags! A good read!
Evelyn Horan - teacher/counselor/author
Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl - Books One - Three
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Baranyai on April 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Once again Larry McMurtry delivers the goods in this tale of The Old West . We are introduced to Calamity Jane who spends a lot of time writing letters to her daughter by the light of a campfire. Calamity Jane joins a Western Touring Company and the sea voyage to America is particularly memorable. There is also another character worth mentioning, namely a Native American called No Ears who views the world in terms of deep philosophical thought. Towards the end of the book we see Calamity Jane lamenting her lost youth and sadly reflects on the Glory Days of the Old West that she was once a part of. Larry McMurtry has writen a fine novel with a real, believable female character which is something most writers in this genre are unable to accomplish.Another wondrous tale from a Master Of His Craft.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
I really liked this book, but it made me depressed. It was anything but predictible, and the book was great... but the movie, let me put it this way... SUCKED! It did not follow the book whatsoever. The book is a helluva lot better. Don't waste your time on the movie if you're planning on seeing it. If you liked anything that Larry McMurtry has written you'll like this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Glenn C. Reither on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One of my favourite books, and my favourite LM novel. No matter how often I revisit it, it always gets a tear.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
Realistic, funny, sad, moving, stays with you. All the reasons I keep reading McMurtry, even re-reading, every chance I get. Will move you to tears at the end, completely unexpected. Thought about it and thought about it afterwards. Where does he get his knowledge of women? It never ceases to amaze me, from Calamity Jane to Aurora Greenway, he never misses. A MUST READ for anyone who loves a good story with real people.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
McMurty makes the characters in this book come alive. You particularly develop a fondness for Calamity Jane. This book takes an insightful look at the Wild West as it becomes a civilized place. All in all, Buffalo Girls is worth a look for anyone who enjoys stories about the West.
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